Since 2010 NATO scientists have explored Data Farming, a process that has been developed to support decision-makers by answering questions that are not currently addressed.

Simply said, Data Farming is a question-based approach, the key words being: What if? "Data Farming provides invaluable aid to the decision makers in light of the complex nature of scenarios that NATO forces are faced with in today's uncertain world, and it allows them to make more informed decisions," explained Cdr Federico Santiago Perez-Dueñas, Head Modelling & Simulation Coordination Office in a newsletter to the NATO M&S community. According to him, NATO's Task Group MSG-124 has been focussing on two areas, namely Operational Defence Planning and Cyber Defence.

One sub-group has developed DFTOP, a Data Farming decision support Tool for Operation Planning that provides raw data to operational analysts who, for their part, prepare analysis modules, interaction possibilities and visualisation modules for the decision makers who are only confronted with visualisations. The cyber defence experts of MSG-124 used data farming techniques to explore solutions that improve NATO's resilience to cyber-attacks. The scenarios considered ranged from lone hackers to cyber espionage organizations. The group developed a model dubbed DACDAM, Data-farmable Actionable Cyber Defence Agent-based Model that is easy to distribute and share with the nations, and allows the data and processes modelled to remain unclassified. Both tools can be used together - the outputs of DACDAM can be fed into DFTOP in order to analyse, compare and refine cyber courses of action.

During CWIX 2017 (Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise), held from 12-29 June, 2017 at the Joint Forces Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland, the working group will demonstrate what has been achieved so far. The event is considered to be one of NATO's primary venues for achieving and demonstrating interoperability.